State 4A softball: Ravens' first-ever trip to semifinals ends there

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AURORA -- Riverdale Ridge High School made it to the state 4A softball semifinals for the first time in school history over the weekend. But the Ravens ran into the top-seeded Holy Family Tigers in that round and lost 7-3. Holy Family went on to win the state title.

It depended on the day and the event at hand as to what sorts of adjectives and descriptors Riverdale Ridge coach Ray Garza wanted to use during his team's run through the state 4A softball playoffs.

He admitted to being a bit discombobulated after the Ravens qualified for the state 4A softball tournament. After the Ravens advanced to their first-ever appearance in the semifinals at Aurora Sports Park Oct. 22, he didn't have an adjective in mind.

One thing he did have in the quarterfinal win was a freshman pitcher on the mound. Brynn Trujillo, who was the fifth pitcher for RRHS when the season began, allowed six hits and struck out seven as RRHS beat Ponderosa 6-1.

"My curveball was moving a lot, and my screwball (was working well)," Trujillo said. "My curve ball is my favorite. It moves the most. I worked hard the past week (with her pitching coach, Shelby Babcock) to make sure my pitches were moving. We worked on spins. I worked a little bit harder."

Trujillo got some help from Sienna Mullin, who had two hits and two RBIs. Sydnee Fordham and Neila Lucero had two hits and drove in a run. Aubree Davis had a base hit and an RBI, while Madyson Ortiz added two base hits.

Trujillo thought if she worked hard, she could move her way up the pitching rotation.

"I felt a little added pressure," she laughed. "I worked through it. I knew that my defense would have my back. If they got a hit, the defense would field it. It's just another game. I made a connection with all the people behind me."

RRHS scored three times in the third, once in the fifth and added two more in the sixth inning.

RRHS' other win in the state tournament was a 3-1 decision against Pueblo Central Oct. 22. Fordham, Davis and Ortiz got credit for the RBIs. Each had at least one base hit, and Kyla Humphries and Mullin added a pair of hits.

Davis was the winning pitcher. She struck out eight in five innings. Trujillo pitched the last two innings and struck out five.

The Ravens spotted Holy Family a three-run lead before rallying in the fourth inning to tie the score. Davis doubled home two runs, and Ortiz's scoring fly ball accounted for the last tally.

The Tigers took the lead for good in the last of the fourth, Kaylee McDonald started the inning with a home run. The Ravens' defense misplayed an Ava Kuscak fly ball for an error to bring home the second run of the inning. McDonald's scoring fly ball brought home a run in the fifth inning, and J. Peterson singled home the other run in the inning.

"Going in, we knew their firepower was strong," Garza said. "They've been at the top of the 4A classification for years. We weren't able to make some routine plays, and they were able to make some amazing plays that changed the mindset of the game."

Lucero, Davis, Mullin and Emma Hodnet had base hits for the Ravens against Holy Family. Trujillo finished with six strikeouts.

"I can't take anything away from our girls for battling," Garza said. "A couple of things didn't go our way in the middle of the game that could have. When you get here, the average players have to stay average. And you have to make the routine plays."

RRHS ended the season with a record of 24-4.

"We're good," Garza said. "I feel for our seniors. They are the first group of seniors that started this program. The first day of practice with his group, we had five kids on the field. I'm thinking, 'All right. I'm sitting on a field with five girls. What are we going to do?' We were able to pull some people out of the hallways. We put together 21 girls the first year. We made it to the playoffs. We went to the state tournament three years in a row."

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